What Herman Cain Really Thinks About His Opponents

I noted yesterday that Herman Cain had criticized Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann for what he called pandering at this weekend’s Faith And Freedom Conference but, as Ujala Sehgal notes, Cain has been pretty unrestrained in talking about his other opponents as well:

Rick Santorum is a Disgrace to Reagan. Last month, Rick Santorum challenged Cain’s electoral viability. “He’s never won an election,” Santorum said, according to Politico. “And it’s not that he hasn’t tried. He’s run twice and lost.” Cain’s camp fired back with this, in hindsight, remarkably hypocritical response: “We are disappointed to see Senator Santorum violating President Ronald Reagan’s ‘Eleventh Commandment:’ ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of fellow Republicans,'” his spokeswoman said in a statement. “As conservatives, our mission should be to beat President Obama in 2012, not beat each other up in the process. We are certain that President Ronald Reagan would be proud of the man that Herman Cain is and the class act he remains.”

Mitt Romney is Pro-Establishment. On “The Week” with Christiane Amanpour yesterday, Cain said the American people are “working off of the traditional model of great name ID before you start out, whole lot of money, and you’ve held public office before.” But he argued that he was “just the reverse,” which would work in this election because “what’s happening is the American people aren’t looking at it from the traditional model standpoint.” Republican adviser Joe McKinnon added, “People are looking for non-traditional, anti-establishment candidate. And that’s not Mitt Romney.” Cain has personally juxtaposed the wealthy Romney with himself before. “I cannot compete with a Romney when it comes to money,” Cain told Politico last month. “He has at his disposal his own personal fortune [but] I have the advantage of a grassroots network.”

Sarah Palin is Not a Contender. In the same interview with Amanpour, Cain was asked if he thought Sarah Palin would enter the presidential race. While he said he was uncertain, he also added this: “But if I had to guess, I would say ‘no.'”

Donald Trump was Born with a Silver Spoon. Many members of the GOP were hesitant to say derisive comments about Trump, whether or not they believed anything he said, or whether or not he was running, on account of his brief surge of popularity in the polls. Even recently, since Trump’s been out of the race, Sarah Palin has suggested Trump as an independent. But no empty praise from Cain. He not only takes his prayer seriously, he takes his pizza seriously, being a former pizza magnate. And during an interview yesterday, when he was asked about Trump’s pizza date with Sarah Palin (where Trump infamously ate with a fork), Cain quipped, “”If you’re born with a silver spoon in your mouth, maybe you believe you’re supposed to eat pizza with a knife and a fork!” Cain also noted that, as someone born without a silver spoon, “I had to learn to eat with my hands.”

Everyone Else is Unlikely to Win. Cain got the keynote slot at the FFC conference Friday and Saturday, even though nearly every other GOP presidential hopeful spoke as well. And he had plenty of swagger and optimism for his own campaign. “We will put a conservative in the White House, and I’ve got a good feeling his name is going to be Herman Cain,” he said, getting a standing ovation, according to Politico.

It’s unusual to see a primary candidate being this out spoken about his fellow party members, especially at this early point in the race. Then again, Cain is not a typical candidate, which seems to be part of the appeal that he has for some people. While criticism of Romney is fairly standard for all of the “Tea Party” candidates in the race, his comments about Pawlenty, Bachmann, Santorum, and, most interestingly perhaps, Palin, are a signal that as far as he’s concerned the gloves are off. This could make the next several months very interesting as the candidate try to muscle their way past each other.

Besides, can anyone really say that what Cain said about his opponents is untrue?

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. TG Chicago says:

    The article you quoted is pretty terrible.

    *Cain said Santorum was “a disgrace”! Except he never actually said that. And his Reagan-quoting response was not all that hypocritical (unless maybe you view it in light of his comments about Pawlenty and Bachmann)

    *Cain said Romney is “Pro-Establishment”! Except it was Joe McKinnon who said that, not Cain.

    *He said Palin is “not a contender!” Well, actually he just said he didn’t think she’d enter the race, hardly a fringe view.

    *Cain says nobody else can win! Actually, he was just optimistic about his likelihood of success, which is standard political fare.

    The only person he actually dissed is Trump. Every other quote was thrown wildly out of proportion. I’m no Cain fan, but judging by what you quoted, this was an unfair hit-piece.

  2. Michael says:

    Well, we’ve had Paul-bots and Palin-drones, so bring on the Cain-anites! I bet Doug brings in more advertising dollars than any other author on this site.

  3. Murray says:

    Call me snob but, although I wasn’t born with a silver spoon in my mouth, I eat pizza with a fork and a knife.

  4. Moosebreath says:

    “Cain’s camp fired back with this, in hindsight, remarkably hypocritical response: “We are disappointed to see Senator Santorum violating President Ronald Reagan’s ‘Eleventh Commandment:’ ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of fellow Republicans,’””

    After reading the remainder of the quotes, my irony meter broke. Can I send a bill to Cain’s campaign?

  5. TG Chicago says:

    After reading the remainder of the quotes, my irony meter broke. Can I send a bill to Cain’s campaign?

    Which quote caused your irony meter to break? Cain said that Romney has more money than him and that Palin might not run. That’s not exactly “speaking ill” of other Republicans. The first one is an irrefutable fact and the second one is a tame prediction.

  6. Moosebreath says:


    You may want to note that there are nore than 2 other quotes there…

  7. TG Chicago says:

    Okay, so which one was it? Other than the Trump comment (and Trump is more of a showman than a Republican), his comments were quite tame.

  8. Bill says:

    Looks like the author was really trying to make Cain look bad but was unable to find any real dirt so he had to embellish on what little he had. I actually find it refreshing that a candidate will say what is on his mind as opposed to playing the usual games.